BREAKING: The Roar has confirmed that Israel Folau will sign with the NSW Waratahs. A press conference will be held within the next 24-36 hours to announce the Waratahs deal.
Folau will front the media in a Waratahs jersey where it will be announced that he will be playing in the 2013 Super Rugby season.
It is unclear exactly what salary agreements have been reached between the parties, but it is understood to be considerably less than the $1.5m on offer per year from the AFL, and the deal will be without ‘top-up’ assistance from the ARU.
Waratahs staff are expected to be asked how Folau can fit underneath the salary cap in place for the Super Rugby competition. The cap has recently been increased to $4.5 million for the 2013 season, after a deal between the ARU and Rugby Union Players Association.
Folau has added kicking to his skill set after his stint in the AFL with the GWS Giants, and has played rugby in his youth.
He is expected to add firepower to the Waratahs backline once he has adjusted to his third professional code in Australia. His performances will be keenly watched by supporter base coming off a worst ever season in 2012.
Folau will have a slightly shortened pre-season under new Waratahs coach Michael Cheika, and will need to bulk up from his AFL-style endurance physique.
The confirmation of Israel Folau signing to the NSW Waratahs is a major coup for rugby in Australia and will leave many at NRL headquarters pondering what could have been – in particular, what went wrong with the Parramatta Eels deal.
Is this the right signing for the NSW Waratahs?